Australia’s construction industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, offering numerous opportunities for those looking to pursue a career in the field. One such promising career path is that of a building associate. Building associates play a crucial role in the construction process, assisting with project management, coordinating with stakeholders, and ensuring the successful completion of building projects. If you aspire to become a building associate in Australia, this blog will guide you through the essential steps to kick-start your journey.
Understand the Role of a Building Associate
Before diving into the process, it’s crucial to gain a clear understanding of the responsibilities and expectations associated with the role. Building associates work closely with architects, engineers, contractors, and clients to facilitate the construction process. They assist in project management, supervise construction activities, monitor progress, and maintain effective communication between various stakeholders. Building associates need to have a strong grasp of construction principles, building codes, regulations, and possess excellent organisational and communication skills. The role also offers more technical aspects, such as:
- Assembling initial sketches, working drawings, specifications etc.
- Assembling, editing and revising plans, maps, charts, drawings etc.
- Collating data utilising surveying instruments and photogrammetric equipment
Obtain Relevant Education and Qualifications
To become a building associate in Australia, acquiring a relevant educational background is highly recommended. While there is no specific degree mandated, a certification in construction management, civil engineering, or a related field is advantageous. These programs offer a comprehensive understanding of construction principles, project management, and building regulations.
To understand the Australian higher educational system, you should first recognise the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The AQF comprises 10 levels of increasing difficulty and are as follows:
- Certificate I
- Certificate II
- Certificate III
- Certificate IV
- Advanced Diploma, Associate Degree
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma
- Masters Degree
- Doctoral Degree
Within the building and construction industry, it is common for most people to only study within a select number of levels for reasons such as purpose, demand and supply of jobs and what is desired in a career.
In the case of becoming a building associate, the Diploma level is most applicable – within this, the Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) course derives the most value for aspiring students. It continues on from the Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) course before it.
As this is an advanced course, it is generally aimed at tradespeople and other employed people in the construction industry who are looking to advance their skills in management and development of residential/low-rise construction. Thus, as an aspiring building associate looking to obtain a builder’s licence, this course would be the perfect opportunity to hone your knowledge and become more of a well-rounded candidate for employment.
The Diploma represents quite a significant increase in difficulty compared to preceding levels. This is evidenced by the fact that it can lead to university courses in a specialised field. Theory and practical learning objectives are heavily expanded upon with similar increases of difficulty. People who reach this level can apply their knowledge in management or supervisory positions, and potentially grow a high level of expertise in a particular area.
Additionally, pursuing certifications or diplomas in construction-related disciplines can provide a competitive edge. Several reputable institutions and vocational training providers in Australia offer such programs, including the Australian Institute of Building (AIB) and the Master Builders Association (MBA).
Gain Practical Experience through Internships or Entry-level Positions
While education forms the foundation, practical experience is equally vital in the construction industry. Internships or entry-level positions allow aspiring building associates to gain hands-on experience, develop industry connections, and refine their skills. Seek opportunities with construction companies, architectural firms, or project management firms to get exposure to real-world construction projects.
During these early stages, focus on learning various aspects of the construction process, including site management, project scheduling, cost estimation, and quality control. Actively participate in construction meetings, observe the decision-making processes, and understand the importance of collaboration between different stakeholders.
Another common form of developing practical skills is completing a construction apprenticeship. In an apprenticeship, you can take part in real world projects where you can put your knowledge to the test in a practical manner. Apprenticeships seek to significantly boost your skills to make you a more well-rounded individual.
Build a Professional Network
Networking plays a significant role in advancing one’s career in the construction industry. Attend industry conferences, seminars, and workshops to connect with professionals in the field. Join relevant professional associations such as the AIB, MBA, or the Construction Management Association of Australia (CMAA). Engaging in networking activities helps you stay updated with industry trends, build relationships, and open doors to potential job opportunities.
Develop Key Skills and Attributes
To thrive as a building associate, certain skills and attributes are essential. These include:
- Strong Communication: Building associates must effectively communicate with diverse stakeholders, including architects, contractors, suppliers, and clients. Develop excellent verbal and written communication skills to ensure smooth coordination and project success.
- Organisational Skills: Construction projects involve multiple tasks, deadlines, and resources. Enhance your organisational skills to manage various aspects simultaneously, such as project schedules, permits, and documentation.
- Problem-solving Abilities: Construction projects often present unexpected challenges. Cultivate problem-solving abilities to identify solutions, make informed decisions, and address issues promptly.
- Attention to Detail: Construction projects require meticulous attention to detail to ensure compliance with building codes, regulations, and quality standards. Develop a keen eye for detail and a commitment to delivering high-quality work.
- Leadership Skills: Building associates often lead teams and coordinate with different professionals. Enhance your leadership abilities by honing your decision-making skills, fostering teamwork, and motivating others.
Stay Updated with Building Codes and Regulations
Building codes and regulations play a crucial role in the construction industry, ensuring the safety, durability, and compliance of buildings. As a building associate, it’s essential to stay updated with the latest building codes and regulations in Australia. Familiarise yourself with the National Construction Code (NCC) and state-specific regulations, as they vary across different regions.
The National Construction Code (more commonly shortened to NCC) is a legislative code with significant stature in the building and construction industry. It is part of the primary make up of rules and regulations in building and construction in Australia. The NCC outlines the prerequisites for the design and construction of buildings in Australia. It also details the minimum necessary level for the health, safety, accessibility and quality of buildings.
In terms of volumes of the NCC, there are 3. These all offer descriptive detail with regards to the types of buildings and the requirements for each type. They are as follows:
- Volume 1: concerned with Class 2 to 9 buildings.
- Volume 2: concerned with Class 1 and 10 buildings.
- Volume 3: concerned with plumbing and drainage work associated with all classes of buildings.
By abiding by the NCC, building associates can make sure they maintain strict compliance with the laws of the building and construction industry in any engagement, helping to keep reputations intact.
Regularly refer to industry publications, attend seminars, and participate in professional development programs to stay informed about changes in building regulations. This knowledge will help you ensure that construction projects adhere to legal requirements and maintain high standards of safety and quality.
Pursue Professional Certification
While not mandatory, obtaining professional certifications can enhance your credibility and employability as a building associate. The Australian Institute of Building (AIB) offers certifications such as Certified Professional Builder (CPB) and Certified Building Professional (CBP). These certifications demonstrate your expertise and commitment to professional development.
Additionally, consider pursuing certifications specific to project management, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). These certifications validate your project management skills, further strengthening your profile as a building associate.
Seek Career Advancement Opportunities
As you gain experience and expertise in the construction industry, it’s essential to seek career advancement opportunities. Building associates can progress into roles such as project managers, construction managers, or even start their own construction businesses.
Continuously seek professional development opportunities, such as workshops or courses focused on advanced construction management, leadership, or specialised areas of construction. Stay proactive in expanding your knowledge, skills, and qualifications to enhance your prospects for career growth.
Stay Abreast of Industry Trends and Innovations
The construction industry is dynamic, with advancements and innovations constantly shaping the way projects are designed and executed. Stay up to date with emerging technologies, sustainable building practices, and industry trends. This knowledge will not only enhance your expertise but also make you a valuable asset to construction projects by incorporating innovative solutions and practices.
Follow industry publications, attend conferences, and engage with industry professionals to stay informed about the latest trends, materials, and technologies that are transforming the construction landscape.
All in all, becoming a building associate in Australia offers a rewarding career path in the thriving construction industry. By understanding the role, acquiring relevant education, gaining practical experience, and developing key skills, you can pave your way to success. Building a professional network, staying updated with regulations, pursuing certifications, seeking career advancement opportunities, and staying abreast of industry trends are all essential steps to excel in this field.
Remember, becoming a building associate requires continuous learning, adaptability, and a passion for construction. With dedication, hard work, and a commitment to excellence, you can embark on a fulfilling journey as a building associate, contributing to the construction of safe, sustainable, and impressive structures in Australia.
Parker Brent is a provider of courses in building and construction. For more details, enquire here.